Plan Your Dream Trip to France and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy

January 30th, 2014 12:57 PM | Comments Off on Plan Your Dream Trip to France and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy

By Kim MacMillan

Chateau Le Pin, the main house at the Le Pin French National Stud Farm. Photo by Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography & Media Services

Chateau Le Pin, the main house at the Le Pin French National Stud Farm. Photo by Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography & Media Services

An island abbey topped with a gilded figure of Saint Michael towers above the Bay of Mont St-Michel. Rolling green pastures dotted with cattle and apple orchards surround you as you drive through the countryside. Half-timbered houses, stately stone churches and quaint shops selling cheeses, pastries and apple cider greet you as you drive through charming villages and towns. Live like a French nobleman as you stay overnight or have a meal in an historic chateau. Sample calvados, a rich apple-based brandy, or taste some creamy camembert cheese, both exclusive to the region.

Stroll past brightly colored beach umbrellas on the English Channel and enjoy some fresh-caught seafood for dinner. Walk through the fanciful wrought-iron gates at Haras du Pin French National Stud to see some of the best horses France has to offer. Travel back in time to World War II to appreciate the sacrifice of American, Canadian and British troops on D-Day in 1944 when they breached the rugged coastline of the Normandy Beaches. Visit the home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet or view the famous Tapestry of Bayeux which commemorates William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings. All of these things, and much more, are possible in Normandy.

Best of all, this summer you can see this wonderful region of France and attend the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy – all for the cost of one plane ticket. The Games will take place in and near the city of Caen August 23 through September 7.

See what Normandy has to offer in this two-page photo gallery

About the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy:

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy this year will be the seventh renewal of the Games. The first one was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1990 and the last Games were held in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2010. The Kentucky Games were the first ones to have a title sponsor – Alltech. Alltech generously continued their sponsorship to the 2014 Normandy Games. Go to the Normandy Games site for more information at www.normandy2014.com.

The Games are held every four years and are spaced two years before the next Olympic Games. The 2014 Games will be the World Championships for eight equestrian disciplines:  dressage to be held in D’Ornano Stadium in Caen; driving to be held at the Prairie Racecourse (in French, Hippodrome) in Caen; endurance to be run over a course near the Abbey of Mont St-Michel; eventing, the first two phases will be held at the du Pin French National Stud and the stadium jumping phase in Caen in the D’Ornano Stadium; para dressage held at the Prairie Racecourse in Caen; reining to be held in the Exhibition Centre in Caen; show jumping held in the D’Ornano Stadium in Caen,  and vaulting held in the Zenith Indoor Arena in Caen. In addition there will be two demonstration sports:  horse-ball to be contested in Saint-Lô and polo to be played at the Hippodrome in Deauville. For more information about the disciplines click here.

Inside the D'Ornano Stadium, which is normally used for soccer and other sporting events, the dressage, show jumping and the stadium phase for eventing will be staged during the Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy. Photo by Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography & Media Services

Inside the D’Ornano Stadium, which is normally used for soccer and other sporting events, the dressage, show jumping and the stadium phase for eventing will be staged during the Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy. Photo by Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography & Media Services

In addition to the equestrian sports competition, there will also be an extensive Alltech World Equestrian Games Village located in downtown Caen. The Games Village will have many educational demonstrations and displays and free entertainment (including a wide variety of equestrian performers and the Alltech Music Festival). The Village will also include shopping and restaurants. A “Working Horse Showcase” and children’s activities will also be part of the fun in the Village. Tickets for entry to just the Village are only five Euros or free if you have a ticket to one of the discipline competition venues. For more information about the Games Village, click here.

The Games Village will be closed on Monday, September 1, and there is no sporting competition that day either (other than warm-up session for show jumping). So, take in some sights around Normandy on that day.

About Title Sponsor Alltech:

The Games would not be possible without title sponsor Alltech, which is the only privately held company among the top-ten animal health companies in the world. Alltech was founded in 1980 by Irishman Dr. Pearse Lyons, a biochemist (University College of Dublin) who also has a Ph.D. in Brewing from the British School of Malting and Brewing at the University  of Birmingham, England. Alltech produces animal nutrition products and has a mission to “improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation.” Their world headquarters and nutrigenomics laboratory are located in Nicholasville, Kentucky, but they have a presence in 128 countries around the world.

Their work with yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics (the study of the relationship between nutrition and genetics) allows them to produce products to benefit animal health, and thus human health, as well as products for use in crop sciences. Their Lifeforce equine nutritional supplement incorporates several of their products including their selenium yeast product Sel-Plex and other Alltech mainstays such as Yea-Sac and Bio-Mos. For more information on Lifeforce go to http://www.lifeforcehorse.com.

Alltech operates on their founding “ACE principle”:  their promise that in doing business they have a positive impact on the Animal, the Consumer, and the Environment. In addition to animal nutrition products, Alltech ventured back to Dr. Lyon’s roots when it opened the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in 2000.  Their facility now produces beer, ales and bourbon. For more information go to www.alltech.com.

Planning Your Trip to The Games and Normandy:

Photo courtesy of Studio UNIK

Photo courtesy of Studio UNIK

Ready to take the plunge? It is not too late to plan a trip to attend the Games and tour Normandy. For horse lovers with a penchant for traveling, this is a dream vacation. Many housing options in a variety of price ranges are available and tickets to all of the official disciplines and both exhibition sports may still be purchased. Here is some help to plan your trip.

About Normandy

Located in northwestern France, Normandy is divided into two regions – Upper and Lower Normandy. Lower Normandy includes three “départements” (counties): Calvados (capital is Caen); Manche (capital is Saint-Lô), and Orne (capital is Alençon). Upper Normandy includes two “départements”: Eure (capital is Evreux) and Seine-Maritime (capital is Rouen). The region also boasts 350 miles of coastline lining the English Channel (the narrow body of water between France and England connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the North Sea) and the famous Seine River that flows through Paris finishes its 776-kilometer run by going through Normandy where it finally empties into the Channel.

Today’s Normandy is a land of quiet contrasts. It is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. The rich maritime heritage yields world-class seafood, and picturesque farms and orchards produce the region’s specialties of apples, pears, calvados, beef and lamb, and a wide variety of dairy products. There are many lovely small towns and a few larger cities such as Caen which was mostly destroyed in World War II and is now a modern city and a center for business in the region.

Though peaceful and beautiful today, the region has a long history of conflict too. Early on Viking Norseman invaded from the north. Then the British and the French fought over the area for many years. France’s William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy to defeat his British cousin in 1066 to become the first Norman King of England. A few hundred years later, the young Frenchwoman Joan of Arc, who rallied her countrymen against the English, was burned at the stake at Rouen. Then in World War II, the famous Battle of Normandy turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies as U.S., Canadian and English troops stormed the beaches on D-Day on June 6, 1944. In 2014 the 70th anniversary of D-Day will be commemorated throughout the year in Normandy.

For more information about traveling in Normandy go to their tourism site at www.normandy-tourism.com. Here is another link to information about Normandy, including an interactive map showing the competition venues, on the Games site:  http://www.normandy2014.com/normandy/territory.

Getting There – Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

Flights into Paris are the easiest way to get to Normandy from North America. The Charles de Gaulle airport (airport code CDG) hosts flights from most major cities in North America. Once you land in Paris, you can take a train or bus to Caen or you may rent a car and drive there. Caen is about two and a half hours northwest of Paris. Another option to get to Caen is to take a ferry or a train from England. CityJet also flies from London’s City Airport a few times a week into Deauville, which is about 45 minutes north of Caen. Many travel booking web sites offer the chance to sign up for alerts when airfares drop in price since airfare will be a major portion of the cost of your trip.

If you plan to rent a car while you are attending the Games and touring Normandy, please note whether or not the place you are staying has ample parking and whether parking is included in your lodging price or costs extra. Since driving to and parking at the Games venues will be limited, it may be that you will have to park in designated lots and ride a shuttle bus or train to get to the actual venue. Information about this should be provided on the Games web site and/or included with your tickets.

Tickets:

Tickets for the Games may be purchased either from Equestrian Tours LLC here in the U.S. (in Vermont at 1-888-721-6421 or Equestours@yahoo.com) or for Canadian travelers from GVQ Travel (in Quebec at 1-800-463-1598 or info@gvqtravel.ca) or directly from the Alltech World Games site at www.normandy2014.com – highlight the “Practical” tab and you will see “Tickets” in the drop–down menu – click on that to take you to the ticketing site. Equestrian Tours LLC offers everything from complete tour packages to just tickets to the events. Two types of admission tickets are available – tickets for the actual sporting competition sessions or tickets that allow you access only to the Games Village. Sporting competition tickets include admission into the Games Village for the date listed on the ticket.

Tickets are touted to be less expensive than at the last World Games. If you are looking for tickets on a budget, opt for first-round qualifier sessions rather than the finals of a particular sport – these are generally cheaper and you get to see competitors from more countries in the early rounds. Tickets for all disciplines are still available, but dressage, show jumping and eventing are selling the quickest. Currently ticket packages are available that include multiple tickets to several disciplines. Individual ticket sales for single events go on sale on March 4. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies will also be popular tickets, with the Opening being priced higher.

Housing:

There are a wide variety of hotels and chateaus with rooms available in Normandy. Or you can rent houses, vacation apartments or private rooms. One site to look at when searching for a vacation rental in France is http://en.gites-de-france.com/ (“gite” is a French word for a vacation rental house). A simple internet search for hotels or for rooms, houses or vacation apartments to rent in Caen or Normandy will also yield quite a few choices. For families on a budget, or if you enjoy outdoor living, check out campsites (complete with camper, cabin or tents) that can be reserved though Key Camp at www.ukcaravanhire.org/keycamp/normandy.html. Another camping web site is for La Cõte de Nacre campground at www.camping-cote-de-nacre.com . Also check out links to housing options on the Games and Normandy tourism web sites listed above.

Essential for Travel in France:

  • Euros – take cash and credit cards
  • Passport
  • French phrase book
  • Power converter plugs (voltage converter) for your electronic devices
  • Light jacket and rain gear
  • Research options for cell phone and internet usage in Europe

All photos are the property of MacMillan Photography. To purchase the photos contact Kim at photo@looncreekenterprises.com or 260-468-2392

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